Bearing flags and united in fury, tens of thousands of demonstrators crowded the streets of American cities on Saturday to denounce the scope and scale of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza in response to last month’s terrorist assault by Hamas.
The day’s protests, within sight of the seats of American power in Washington but also in places like New York, Nashville, Cincinnati, Las Vegas and even Orono, Maine, extended and amplified demands for a cease-fire and an end to the siege in Gaza. The demonstrations came a week after vast protests in Asian and European capitals, and a day after the Israeli government appeared to rebuff the United States’ call for “humanitarian pauses” in the bombardment.
But Saturday’s demonstrators demanded far more than that, their chants in Washington thundering along Pennsylvania Avenue, their protest signs filled with messages like “Mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living” and “Let Gaza live!” Beyond a swift end to the siege that is exacting a swelling human toll, they also sought a shutdown of American aid to Israel, blending policy demands with anguish and ambition.
Some of the chants, most especially “From the river to the sea!” have been condemned as an antisemitic call for Israel’s destruction, though many protesters have defended the slogan as a cry for freedom.
The protests in the capital and elsewhere unfolded as public opinion surveys show support for Israel in its military campaign against Hamas, which the United States government considers a terrorist organization, but rising concern for Palestinian civilians. Roughly 1,400 Israelis were killed in the attack by Hamas, and more than 9,000 Gazans have been killed in Israel’s bombing campaign.
Saturday’s demonstrations also reflected the constellation of causes and groups that have long connected themselves to the Palestinian cause, including Black activists, student organizations, labor unions and antiwar and environmental groups.
Here is a snapshot of who took to the streets in four cities.
The city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, settled by German immigrants in the 1800s, was transformed into a swath of Palestinian support, with several hundred marchers clogging roads, shutting down intersections and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans under the watchful eye of a heavy police presence.
The rally and march brought together a disparate group of people. The event was organized by the Cincinnati Socialists, but it was heavily attended by Muslims, Black activists, college students and peace advocates.
Yasmeen Allen, 49, a Muslim who moved to Cincinnati from Iraq 26 years ago, said that the city’s Muslim population represented a diverse cross-section of countries, but there was one thing that united them: support for Palestinians. “The Muslim population has grown significantly in the 26 years I’ve been here, and it has grown more diverse,” Ms. Allen said.